5/17/2005

Variety Attacks LIBERTAS over ‘Star Wars’

Filed under: — Jason @ 7:27 pm

This past weekend Variety’s Gabriel Snyder took the occasion to deride LIBERTAS and “conservative pundits, critics and bloggers” for trying to “turn” Star Wars: Episode III: Revenge of the Sith into “this summer’s Fahrenheit 9/11. ” Mr. Snyder asserts that conservatives have “marshalled thin evidence” with respect to George Lucas’ intentions for the ‘Star Wars’ series, implying that conservatives have become paranoid-delusionals - hunting for dark intent where there is none. Here are excerpts from his curious article:

Inspiration for the incredibly close reading of the film is an interview George Lucas gave to Wired magazine. Two quotes – Fahrenheit 9/11 was a film that couldn’t “affect people who have made up their minds the other way” and “The thing I like about science fiction is that you can take issues, pull them out of their cultural straitjackets” – were interpreted to mean that Lucas intended ‘Star Wars’ as a liberal diatribe.

And then it was off to the rhetorical races.

On the blog Libertas, Jason Apuzzo wrote, “Lucas clearly wants to ‘affect’ people. … This is a bit like saying Goebbels was merely clumsy, but his intentions were pure.” Steve Silberman, the writer who interviewed Lucas for Wired, is dismayed by the sudden reaction, emailing furiously to tamp down misinterpretations. Replying on Libertas, for instance, he wrote, “I don’t know what interview you’re reading, but it wasn’t the one I had with Lucas.”

Mr. Snyder is a little late to the game, I’m afraid. As early as the mid-70’s Mr. Lucas began describing his ‘Star Wars’ story to his friends as a parable for America’s war in Vietnam - with America serving as the evil, hyper-technological Empire, and the ‘primitive’ Vietnamese as the Rebel Alliance. This is well known, and I’m privately able to confirm this through people who’ve known George for about 40 years. Mr. Snyder also might want to listen to Lucas’ DVD commentary for Phantom Menace, in which he refers to low-tech Vietnamese victories over high-tech American forces as “kind of inspiring.” If that isn’t sufficient, here is Mr. Lucas speaking at Cannes on Sunday, repeating what he’s been saying about the ‘Star Wars’ series for the past 30 years:

Lucas said he patterned his story after historical transformations from freedom to fascism, never figuring when he started his prequel trilogy in the late 1990s that current events might parallel his space fantasy. “As you go through history, I didn’t think it was going to get quite this close. So it’s just one of those recurring things,” Lucas said at a Cannes news conference. “I hope this doesn’t come true in our country. Maybe the film will waken people to the situation,” Lucas joked.

That comment echoes Moore’s rhetoric at Cannes last year, when his anti-Bush documentary Fahrenheit 9/11 won the festival’s top honor.

Unlike Moore, whose Cannes visit came off like an anybody-but-Bush campaign stop, Lucas never mentioned the president by name but was eager to speak his mind on U.S. policy in Iraq, careful again to note that he created the story long before the Bush-led occupation there.

“When I wrote it, Iraq didn’t exist,” Lucas said, laughing. “We were just funding Saddam Hussein and giving him weapons of mass destruction. We didn’t think of him as an enemy at that time. We were going after Iran and using him as our surrogate, just as we were doing in Vietnam. … The parallels between what we did in Vietnam and what we’re doing in Iraq now are unbelievable.”

The prequel trilogy is based on a back-story outline Lucas created in the mid-1970s for the original three “Star Wars” movies, so the themes percolated out of the Vietnam War and the Nixon-Watergate era, he said.

I’d also add that Mr. Lucas recently described himself as a “liberal” to Time Magazine - so I think we can dispense with accusations that we’re making this stuff up out of thin air. What controversy is being caused here is purely of Mr. Lucas’ doing.

The irony of all this - which I don’t expect Mr. Snyder to grasp, judging from the inaccuracy of his article - is that I’ve gone out of my way as recently as yesterday (see my ‘Sith’ review below) to stress that Mr. Lucas’ politics have relatively little to do with his new film, which I actually enjoyed. In fact, my chief complaint with Mr. Lucas is that he’s deceiving critics and entertainment journalists about what they’re getting with Sith - precisely in order to curry favor with them. Mr. Lucas has been mercilessly attacked by entertainment critics for years, and I think he’s finally decided to ‘market’ to them the same way he markets to children (by coddling them).

On a more personal note, Mr. Snyder cleverly juxtaposes Steve Silberman’s quote against mine, implying that Mr. Silberman was responding to me. He wasn’t. He was responding to another commenter on this site. Mr. Silberman and I have engaged in a lively and civilized debate here at LIBERTAS (and by phone), but we’re otherwise very much in agreement about the overall merit of Mr. Lucas’ film.

I’m wondering if this is the same Gabriel Snyder who attended Yale with Govindini Murty, one of the contributors to this blog. That Gabriel Snyder was known for participating in ‘Student Labor Action Coalition’ sit-ins at the Yale President’s office, promoting tuition boycotts, organizing an ACLU chapter on the Yale campus, and attempting to block Ralph Reed from speaking at Yale.

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  1. A liberal bias press is one thing. I’m used to that. Escpecially from the Hollywood press. But now they’re just lying
    and making things up like the rest of us are insane.

    What’s killing liberals like Gabriel Snyder is that they’re hero left wing anti-Bush filmmakers are getting busted. No longer can they sneak up on us in theatres. Thanks to Libertas and other alternative media we now know what these anti-American, terrorist appeasing, Arab haters (how else would you describe those who would prefer them enslaved) are up to before we spend our hard earned money – that is, if we even bother. (Poor Ridley Scott). So, now they’re spinning furiously and just flat out lying. The subtext: “No, no. That’s not what Lucas is up to. It’s not about Bush. Please don’t do to Lucas what you did to Scott. PLEASE!! He’ll blame us and we’ll never visit Skywalker Ranch again! PLEASE!”

    It also betrays their refreshingly realistic lack of conviction in the attraction of their ideology when – like their lying ilk in the liberal news media – they’re only defense for the obvious is that the rest of us have lying eyes and what we’ve seen and read isn’t what we’ve seen and read.

    The newest lame excuse is that this is a storyline developed by Lucas decades ago. so, “How in the world can it be about Bush?????” Oh, my eyes must’ve lied when I read the script was written recently. But if someone shows me where decades ago Lucas had Vader paraphrasing Bush’s “with us or against us” line, I’ll be the first to apologize. And I’ll take Lucas’ word for it. How’s that for a deal? If he just says he wrote that line pre-Bush, I’ll accept him at his word.

    And judging by the integrity certain journalists in the entertainment media are spending to make sure they don’t lose favor with Lucas, I’m guessing he’d take their call. I’m guessing these so-called journalists could get the opportunity to asked the self-described liberal if his near-but-obvious-quoting of George W. Bush was merely serendiptitous.

    In the meantime, Gabriel Snyder’s – save your flacking for the self-described liberal and admirerer of the communist Vietnamese(who killed hundreds of thousands, in case you care) for someone stupid enough to buy it. Someone who hasn’t read Lucas’ recent quotes: http://www.japantoday.com/e/?content=news&cat=8&id=337337 Someone unable to think for themselves. You know, we’re not all as brainwashed as the Lucas FanBoys out there who still line up for a man who hasn’t made a decent movie since Jimmy Carter was President.

    And if anyone’s interested in what Lucas’ ass smells like, just inhale at the next gathering of the Hollywood press. Sycophant lying hacks.

    Comment by Dirty Harry — 5/17/2005 @ 8:35 pm

  2. Oh,yeah. Lucas says, “We were just funding Saddam Hussein and giving him weapons of mass destruction.” Lucas is a liar. We never gave Saddam WMD. That’s a bald faced lie. And it’s an intentional slap at America. That means it’s anti-American. Which means Lucas is anti-American. Because intentionally lying about your country to make it look bad is anti-American and unpatriotic. But this isn’t surprising coming from a man who portrayed Communists as fuzzy little lovable Ewok teddy bears. You remember the Communists? They’ve butchered more people than Hitler? Weren’t they cute?

    Comment by Dirty Harry — 5/17/2005 @ 8:53 pm

  3. As if this is a surprise.

    Comment by Chris — 5/18/2005 @ 12:37 am

  4. Harry, I hate to break it to you, but the US did export biological weapons to Iraq in the years before 1992. That’s not even disputed by the administration.

    ” U.S. Exports of Biological Materials to Iraq

    The Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs has oversight responsibility for the Export Administration Act. Pursuant to the Act, Committee staff contacted the U.S. Department of Commerce and requested information on the export of biological materials during the years prior to the Gulf War. After receiving this information, we contacted a principal supplier of these materials to determine what, if any, materials were exported to Iraq which might have contributed to an offensive or defensive biological warfare program. Records available from the supplier for the period from 1985 until the present show that during this time, pathogenic (meaning “disease producing"), toxigenic (meaning “poisonous"), and other biological research materials were exported to Iraq pursuant to application and licensing by the U.S. Department of Commerce. Records prior to 1985 were not available, according to the supplier. These exported biological materials were not attenuated or weakened and were capable of reproduction.”

    But carry on.

    Comment by Steve Silberman — 5/18/2005 @ 6:41 am

  5. Oh, that’s rich. Our CDC and other legitimate companies send “biological RESEARCH materials” to Iraq to help them
    study and create vaccines and suddenly it’s called shipping “Weapons of Mass Destruction.” Boy, you “Bush Lied People Died” types are sure loose with the definition of WMD when it comes to Lucas, aren’t you?

    Lucas didn’t say, “biological RESEARCH materials were exported to Iraq pursuant to application and licensing by the U.S. Department of Commerce” He said, while enjoying a chuckle with the international press, “We were just funding Saddam Hussein and giving him weapons of mass destruction.”

    He’s a liar.

    Comment by Dirty Harry — 5/18/2005 @ 7:46 am

  6. Now that I think about it – It’s good to know that Silberman and Lucas think the Iraq War was justified. Because using their definition of WMD, we found those weapons in every clinic, hospital, and veterinary refidgerator across Iraq. Not to mention, greenhouses. And I know they would never use one definition of WMD to criticize America for shipping them and then make up a completely different definition to criticize America’s rationale for war.

    Who would want to look so blatantly hypocritical and desperate to bash their country?

    Boy, their heated defense of Bush at the beautiful people parties must be something to see: “No, Sean Penn! No! We did find WMD! It was in petrie dishes and test tubes! How dare you say Bush lied!”

    Let’s all give Silberman and Lucas credit for intellectual honesty, shall we?

    Comment by Dirty Harry — 5/18/2005 @ 9:21 am

  7. “Now that I think about it – It’s good to know that Silberman and Lucas think the Iraq War was justified. Because using their definition of WMD, we found those weapons in every clinic, hospital, and veterinary refidgerator across Iraq. Not to mention, greenhouses. And I know they would never use one definition of WMD to criticize America for shipping them and then make up a completely different definition to criticize America’s rationale for war.”

    Damned excellent, too bad no one in the MSM has the balls to pose a question like that.

    Then again they don’t even have the balls to ask Moore and others for a explanation that they were sure that bin Laden was caught and Bush was waiting for the election to release him. They spread that bs for a year at least and I’ve never heard a word about those kind of wild accusations since the election.

    Comment by Chris — 5/18/2005 @ 4:02 pm

  8. Only today have I heard anything about this potential correlation between Sith and the Bush administration. But, I heard a while ago that in the new movie Sith would be about the down fall of Anakin Skywalker to the dark side. Seeing the “for me/against me” quote: wouldn’t that be typical of a teenager changing his lifestyle if is someone tried to dissuade him from his course. Personally I am not a Star Wars fan and only watch them because of the repercussions from society and its popularity. Being an entertainment oriented person, I would think the movie could potentially have some mirrored essences. Wasn’t it the same for multiple religious groups or philosophical groups and the movie, the Matrix? Even then they were saying “What is the movie trying to say?” Is it possible that the origin was just the story that went in line with the other episodes? Yet I thank those more politically, economically and spiritually motivated than me to bring these things to my attention.

    Comment by Zach — 5/18/2005 @ 4:20 pm

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